Forman talks ups and downs of final Junior A season

Local defenceman skating through last year of junior hockey in Saskatchewan

The name of the small town in northeast Saskatchewan where Reece Forman is playing his final junior hockey season is said to come from a Cree word describing a place to wait, and rest.

There is little of that these days, however, for the big 108 Mile Ranch defenceman, in the midst of a second season with the Nipawin Hawks of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

The club is 29-14-2, with seven games left, and playoffs around the corner in March. They’re coming off three games in three nights, Feb. 6-8. Forman is logging a lot of minutes on the ice, and the team’s head coach, Doug Johnson, keeps the boys very busy off of it. The players volunteer much of their spare time engaging with the community, and just like in 100 Mile House, the town of Nipawin couldn’t be more behind its junior hockey club.

Forman, 20, has notched two goals and 14 assists from the point this season, having tallied six points total in 2013-14. He’s more confident this year, and he’s trying to set an example for the younger guys on the team.

Life in Saskatchewan is busy and a lot of fun, he says. It’s not so different from life in the Cariboo, aside from the flat roads and the sunsets. He just saw the northern lights for the first time. The Hawks are primed for the playoffs.

“We’re looking pretty good,” Forman says. “Team-wise, we’re doing well. It’s a really great group of guys.”

But while his last season in Nipawin has mostly been a good one, there were a couple of low points earlier on.

Around Christmas time, Forman fell and cracked his elbow on the ice, splitting it open. Infection unfortunately set in the small wound, and Forman’s arm was swollen from wrist to shoulder. He can laugh about it now, but, having missed about four games, it was painful and frustrating at the time.

“My elbow kind of looked like my knee. It was kind of gnarly-looking.”

Another blow came when Brett Harris – the local talent currently leading the 100 Mile House Wranglers in scoring, who had played with Forman on the Hawks in 2013-14 – had left Nipawin at the beginning of the season.

While the move back down from Junior A to Junior B in September seems to have worked out really well for Harris, whose crafty and consistent play has made him a fan-favourite in 100 Mile, it was a difficult transition at the time.

And it wasn’t easy on Forman, either.

“It was really tough for me,” explains Forman on the phone from Saskatchewan. “I’m looking at his empty bed right now. Having your best friend leave the team, it’s tough. But I’m glad he’s doing well [in 100 Mile], and I’m glad to see he’s putting up points. Playing in your hometown is kind of cool. I’m happy for him. But it was tough for a while.”

In the future, Forman wants to join the RCMP. It’s a big goal of his, he says. He adds if he can after this season continue playing hockey for a post secondary school, that’s a goal as well.